Students demand more test-optional college applications

Maribella Ambrosio

Pricy study books, expensive tutors and extensive time are taken from schoolwork, all for a good score to get accepted into that dream school.

For decades, standardized tests have been students’ biggest concern for college admissions. The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the American College Testing (ACT) are two tests that are heavily weighted in admissions, causing many students to mainly rely on their scores for acceptances.

On Oct. 29, 2019, civil rights organizations and the Compton School District filed lawsuits demanded the UC system to remove standardized tests as a requirement. They argue that it’s illegal for the tests to be required because it is discriminating against students with socioeconomic disadvantages, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“The ACT test is not discriminatory nor biased,” ACT spokesman Ed Colby said in a statement after the Compton Unified School District and the Community Coalition sent a letter to UC regents. “Blaming standardized tests for differences in educational quality and opportunities that exist will not improve educational outcomes.”

The University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems require applicants to either take the SAT or ACT when applying. Students tend to take both to see which test they get a higher score on, according to the New York Times. The scores of these standardized tests show how college-ready students are. Colleges also compare a student’s score with other student’s scores and their GPA to their score. 

However, students and educators have noticed the pressure high school students are under in order to get a good score to get into a top college. UCs and CSUs attract many students nationally which causes stress in those seeking to be accepted.

“Some people are very bright students but when it comes to standardized tests their scores show the opposite and it puts a label on them,” junior Ariana Islam said. “If colleges were to remove standardized tests, it would be easier for everyone to get in. But I can’t say if that’s bad or good. The whole system is messed up.”

 The prices of these expensive tests also put more stress on many students and families, with the SAT price being $49.50 and the SAT with essay costs $64.50. The ACT price is $52 and $68 if a student plans to take the writing test.

“There are discussions in the UC system to do away with the SAT requirement but right now, it’s still a requirement,” said Daniel Pearl Magnet High School college counselor Linda Zimring. “We won’t know (when they will remove it) until it happens. Until they meet and actually decide.”

DPMHS has 75 students in the junior class of 2021 and 85 students in the senior class of 2020. Out of those students, 39 juniors and 52 seniors have a 3.0 GPA or higher. Zimring indicates when a student has a higher GPA, the expectations by colleges is that they have a higher SAT score, however, that is not always the case.

“We have a number of kids who have a high GPA whose SAT is not anywhere commensurate with that,” Zimring said. 

According to Zimring, when colleges make big changes, such as this idea of standardized tests being optional, it takes time for them to officially decide to remove it.

“They wouldn’t say ‘For the class of 2021, the SAT won’t count.’ If they decide, it may be for the class of 2022 or 2023,” Zimring said.

Many high school juniors and seniors are starting to believe that because colleges have been making the SAT optional, the UCs, CSUs and other colleges will follow and remove it from their requirements as well. 

 “I think that it’s going to be a lot less stressful for younger students, but I also think that it’s unfair that it’s only happening now and we had to experience it,” senior Isabelle Marin said